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8/21/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

8/21/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

I am happy to be providing a somewhat lighter update this week, as I am encouraged by the latest Teton County COVID metrics. The current numbers give me hope that, by doing the right thing to reduce the spread of disease, we can reverse surge trends when we encounter them. This is especially important so that local schools have the best possible chance of a successful reopening.

Hospital Update: At St. John’s, we haven’t had a hospitalized COVID patient in several days, and our number of COVID-positive or quarantined staff members has dropped to the single digits. I want to congratulate our Chief Nursing Officer Marsha Sensat, our clinical leadership, and our HR group for their herculean efforts developing staffing plans to handle this crisis. The last thing we want is to be forced to close services the community needs due to a large number of staff becoming sick or quarantined from a community-based COVID exposure.

We appreciate your understanding and patience with our visitor policy restrictions. Under the new temporary guidelines, accompanying or visiting patients in any of our facilities is not possible due to our need to protect our patients and staff. We have also closed our waiting areas and Choices Café to the public. We are taking extra steps during this time, including using video visits, to help you communicate with your loved ones while they are patients with us. Our new policy has several exceptions for special circumstances. You can learn more about our safety plan and visitor policy at

Living Center Update: You may recall that, a few weeks ago, we had a Living Center employee who tested positive for COVID after a community exposure. Subsequently, we followed a frequent COVID testing schedule with staff and residents to help ensure that there wasn’t a transmission of disease to either group. I’m pleased and relieved to say that this program, which we developed in consultation with the Wyoming Department of Health, has concluded, and we had no additional infections. With the abundance of precautions we are taking and our excellent infection prevention record, I’m confident we are going to be able to open our new Sage Living residence for seniors next summer, safely and on schedule.

Testing Update: With support from our public health partners, we were able to expand our COVID test eligibility criteria to include Teton County students who are required by their colleges or schools to document negative COVID status before returning to campus. It is an important community priority to support the education needs of students during this pandemic, and we are very happy that we are able to provide this service.

Next week, we will begin COVID surveillance testing for community businesses in partnership with the Teton County Health Department, through funding from the CARES Act. We already have more than 70 businesses enrolled for free random testing of their asymptomatic workforce. Surveillance testing aids us in identifying people who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic so that we can contain the spread of disease and help reduce closures and other impacts on business. I encourage your business to participate if you have not already signed up. Contact

Thank you for wearing your masks, social distancing when you are out, and keeping your social circles small and safe. I am so proud to live in a community so committed to helping to keep our most vulnerable residents safe. In Teton County, our COVID-positive patients have ranged in age from 6 months to 89 years. Remember, this is a disease that can affect us all.

Paul Beaupré, MD, CEO

St. John’s Health